Okpa

Okpa is a widely consumed food, it is known as Epa- Roro  in Yoruba, Kwaruru or Gurjiya in Hausa. The English name of okpa is steamed bambara bean pudding because  it is made from the bambara bean flour. Bambara bean is a grain legume or pulses it’s also called as bambara nut, it belongs to the family Leguminosae  that makes them vital for enhancement of human health. It’s also a good source of so many vitamins and nutrients. Okpa made from bambara beans has numerous vitamins which can be beneficial to the human body. The health benefits of bambara beans are  quite astonishing and are all for the betterment of the overall health.

 

bambara beans
Bambara beans

 

Health Benefits of Okpa (Bambara Beans)

Calcium: Okpa is a good source of calcium, our body needs calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your heart, muscles and nerves also need calcium to function properly. Some studies suggest that calcium, along with vitamin D, may have benefits beyond bone health: perhaps protecting against cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.

 

Fiber: as a good source of fiber, Okpa comes with several other benefits. Many of us associate fiber with digestive health and bodily functions we’d rather not think about. However, eating foods high in dietary fiber can do so much more than keep you regular. It can lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, improve the health of your skin, and help you lose weight. It may even help prevent colon cancer.

 

Iron: Okpa made from bambara beans is a good source of iron, without enough iron, your body can’t produce enough of a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen (hemoglobin). As a result, iron deficiency anemia may leave you tired and short of breath. Iron is a mineral vital to the proper function of hemoglobin, a protein needed to transport oxygen in the blood. Iron also has a role in a variety of other important processes in the body.

 

Potassium: Common signs and symptoms of potassium deficiency include weakness and fatigue, muscle cramps, muscle aches and stiffness, tingles and numbness, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, digestive symptoms and mood changes. You can get enough potassium from bambara beans ( Okpa)

 

Methionine: Okpa derives majority of its health benefits from its  unusually high level of methionine, an essential sulfur-containing amino acid. Methionine is used to build proteins and produce many molecules in the body. These include the antioxidant glutathione and the molecule SAM, which is used to modify DNA and other molecules.

 

Other Benefits

Studies have shown that Bambara nut from which okpa is made contains higher levels of fatty acids (i.e., palmitic and linoleic acids) in comparison to groundnut, Palmitoleic acid has been reported to have beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity, cholesterol metabolism, and hemostasis.  Furthermore, bambara nut contains a substantial quantity of vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, carotene, and trace quantities of ascorbic acid. Bambara groundnut contains micronutrients such as zinc which is considered an essential nutrient, because your body cannot produce or store it. Zinc is a vital mineral that the body uses in countless ways.

Zinc is necessary for the activity of over 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function and many other processes. In addition, it’s critical for the development and function of immune cells. This mineral is also fundamental to skin health, DNA synthesis and protein production.

 

Side Effects of Okpa (Bambara Beans)

Constipation

Surprisingly one of the most common side effects reported after eating okpa is constipation. Constipation can cause significant inconvenience, discomfort, and even disability for some individuals. For most people, these are likely to be food sensitivity problems, as opposed to irreversible pathological diseases.

 

Allergy

If you are allergic to bambara beans it is better to avoid okpa completely. A food allergy is an abnormal immune response to food. The symptoms of the allergic reaction may range from mild to severe. They may include itchiness, swelling of the tongue, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, trouble breathing, or low blood pressure. This typically occurs within minutes to several hours of exposure.

 

Is Bambara nut good for pregnancy?

Okpa is generally safe to consume during pregnancy when consumed moderately. According to Nuts and Seeds in Health and Disease Prevention, the chewing and swallowing of immature fresh seeds is supposed to arrest nausea and vomiting; this remedy is often used to treat morning sickness in pregnant women. Bambara groundnut seeds have also been used to treat some malignancies and inflammatory disorders in Africa. Nevertheless It is advisable to avoid it if you can during the first three to four crucial months of pregnancy. SEE: Health Benefits and Side Effects of Semovita  

 

How To Make Okpa

Ingredients for Okpa

 

* 500grams Okpa flour (Bambara nut flour)

* 50ml Palm oil(more or less)

* 2 tablespoonful Ground Crayfish(optional)

* 2 Stock cubes (crushed)

* 1 small onion(minced or chopped into tiny bits)

* Ground chili Pepper (to taste)

* Salt( to taste)

* Warm water (as needed)

* Container (could be bowls, Aluminium Foil Bags, Banana Leaves, Uma Leaves(Thaumatococcus Daniellii) or heat proof nylons)

 

Tip: the bambara nut flour is usually made industrially by grinding the nuts(with the skin on). But if you want to make the paste, simply soak the nuts, peel the skin and grind until smooth.

 

Preparation:

 

* Pour the okpa  flour into a bowl, add the palm oil and mix thoroughly, until the flour changes from white to orange or yellow.

 

* Next, add the warm water and mix thoroughly until there is no lump, but it shouldn’t be too watery.

 

* Add the ground crayfish,stock cubes, onions, pepper and salt to taste.Mix thoroughly.

 

* Pour the mixture into your container of choice and place in a pot of boiling water(just as you do with Moi Moi). Leave to boil for 45 minutes.

You might need to add some water to the pot as the water dries up.

 

* The Okpa should be ready after 45 minutes.But if you’re not sure, let it boil for 1hr.

 

Leave to cool a bit. Serve  and enjoy! ALSO SEE: Health Benefits and Side Effects of Pounded Yam

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